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Best Airline CEO?

Sun Apr 18, 2004 12:20 am

We have the post on the worst airline CEO, but what about the best?

I'm not involved with nor interested in airline management, but I think some of the best are:

Gerry Greenwald, CEO United Airlines.....he guided United through the 1990s, the best years for the airline, when stock was above $100 and United was the largest and most powerful airline on Earth.

Herb Kelleher, CEO Southwest......he pioneered the low-cost model for airlines, which has worked up and down for Southwest for 30+ years.

Glenn Tilton, CEO United Airlines......he has done what most thought impossible; he saved United Airlines from liquidation and has it on the road towards recovery. The changes he has implemented to what was once the most inefficient US network carrier have been huge and wide-ranging. Because of his leadership, United is slowly returning to it's former self.

Glenn Zander, CEO Aloha Airlines......turned Aloha from a small, inter-island carrier still reeling from the flight 243 accident to Hawaii's best airline and has established a niche market of serving Pacific Island nations as well as the US Mainland and Canada, with awesome service. Through being fiscally responsible, he has helped Aloha avoid bankruptcy, while Hawaiian has filed a second time.

Bill Compton, CEO TWA.....somehow kept TWA aloft through it's final years despite the Icahn agreement and kept employees together. Though TWA ended up going under, without Compton the end would have been a lot sooner.
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RE: Best Airline CEO?

Sun Apr 18, 2004 12:25 am

Lewis Jordan - CEO Valujet

Built a profitable airline from nothing while the stock split twice and cashed out huge. Grass roots kind of guy that never forgot the people who related well to the people who made him money.

He took on delta in their back yard and won!
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RE: Best Airline CEO?

Sun Apr 18, 2004 12:30 am

Well certainly not Rod Eddington (BA). Look what happened to Ansett after he jumped, knowing full well what was really going on.

come visit the south pacific
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RE: Best Airline CEO?

Sun Apr 18, 2004 12:32 am

Gordon Bethune, CEO Continental

Turned around a failing company that was the laughing stock of the airline industry into a world leading, money making comapny. For those interested, read From Worst to First by Bethune. It is a great book on the saga of Coninental's amazing change!

AA - Doing what we do best.
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RE: Best Airline CEO?

Sun Apr 18, 2004 10:10 am


Enough said! FROM WORST TO FIRST!!!
The Juice is loose and he is in Vegas!
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RE: Best Airline CEO?

Sun Apr 18, 2004 10:14 am

Clive Beddoe, Westjet
He is running an airline that is growing making money and thriving in all bases. The fact that when he flies he helps the crew clean the cabin after arrival should say enough. Although I am sure there are a lot of union people out there who think otherwise.
Canada Rocks! From the west coast to the best coast!
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RE: Best Airline CEO?

Sun Apr 18, 2004 10:15 am

I totally agree has to be "GORDO" the CO people know what i mean.
CAL........Continental Airlines....... Work Hard, Fly Right
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RE: Best Airline CEO?

Sun Apr 18, 2004 10:22 am

G. Bethune

Going to Miss him Next year, I hope things don't change after he goes..
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RE: Best Airline CEO?

Sun Apr 18, 2004 5:46 pm

Thanks to Joe Leonard, few people in the flying public even remember the name ValuJet... and this is a good thing.
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RE: Best Airline CEO?

Sun Apr 18, 2004 8:12 pm

1. Pat Patterson - Lead United Air Lines from the 1930s to the 1960s, and built it into a profitable, extremely successful operation. Not only that, but Pat Patterson's United had class, distinction and refinement, and was a cut above most airlines in terms of service and comfort. Pat Patterson was a man of extreme ethics. He refused to pack passengers in like Sardine, and wouldn't order the 707 with the initial narrow fuselage as it would have been too cramped in a 3+3 configuration-then he turned around and configured his DC-8 fleet in 2+3. Not wanting his stewardesses to be thought of as barmaids, he provided free alcoholic beverages but set a limit of two per passenger. United under his leadership became the largest airline in America following the takeover of Capital in 1961, was responsible for enormous increases in Hawaiian tourism, and made many other contributions to the United States and to the economy. The Friendly Skies were perhaps never as friendly as under Patterson, a CEO who cared about his employees AND his customers, had impeccable moral standards and who also happened to be darn good at what he did.

2. Bob Six - Dashing and flamboyant CEO of Continental, who took on the major airlines with a much smaller fleet of aircraft and won, while at the same time setting new standards in terms of service. He ran a tight ship, treated his employees well, and turned CO from a tiny regional airline into one of the largest airlines in the United States. He was even responsible for the name of the airline, Continental, as when he initially took charge it was known as Varney Speed Lines, Southern Division (good thing he changed it - imagine flying on a Varney Speed Lines Southern Division 777 from Newark to Europe).

3. Robert Crandall - Though his morals weren't on a level with those of Pat Patterson, he was undeniably one of the most successful, and perhaps one of the most ruthless airline CEOs in history. One thing is for sure, without Crandall, AA would not be where it is today. I'll bet the executives at TWA never stopped kicking themselves for passing him up on a promotion.


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